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Showing posts from March, 2015

Arctic Ice -- the global warming "canary"

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In a previous post, I discussed how deniers were using the Arctic Ice extent as evidence against global warming.  They were taking an uptick in 2013 and 2014 as an indication that warming has stopped.



As I pointed out in that post an uptick is not evidence.  Anyone with familiarity with time series

A Bold Move In Support of Climate Science

We have passed 400 ppm CO2, beyond and earlier goal, 350 ppm.   We must act immediately to avoid a truly dire climate.  And now we have a newspaper joining the moment.

The U.K. Guardian has launched a campaign of science and conscience to reverse humanity’s self-destructive pursuit of burning all of the world’s fossil fuels: #keepitintheground. Journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen labeled it “an old fashioned newspaper campaign.”  The Guardian starts by calling on Bill and Melinda Gates to divest their foundation from all investments in fossil fuels. Guardian Editor-in-Chief Alan Rusbridger has also asked for help from whistleblowers in fossil fuel industries to help expose the industry.  Full details of the Guardian campaign — including a petition you can sign — are here. Potential whistleblowers, please click here.  The science is crystal clear that we need to leave the vast majority of fossil fuels in the ground unburnt if we are to have any realistic chance whatsoever …

The Consequences of Global Warming

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What can we expect to happen in the next fifty years or so?  We can draw some insight into this from what happened at the Paleocene/Eocene boundary, called the PETM, because something happened then that is very similar to what is happening now.  And what happened then is that the planet warmed up to the point where it was 75 degrees Fahrenheit at the North Pole in the summer, and the oceans acidified causing the largest extinction of sea life in the history of our planet.   Animal life adapted by moving towards the poles.  What likely caused the global warming then was volcanic activity that released carbon dioxide into the atmosphere warming it which then caused methane hydrates to be released from under the oceans.

We are, however, pouring carbon dioxide into the atmosphere far more rapidly



We can't know exactly what is happening now, but from that graph we are forced to conclude that it is very likely to be far worse than what happened then.

Young People Getting Behind Global Warming

As I've discussed previously, global warming is a very critical issue for young people, perhaps the most critical. A survey of 8th graders conducted by Ipsos at the request of Avaaz and discussed here and here:

Key results from the Avaaz/Ipsos poll of 8th graders:
Nine in ten (90%) eighth graders agree that climate change is real and human activity significantly contributes to climate change87% say driving cars and other things that use gasoline is seen as contributing to climate change72% say the same of chopping down trees which consume carbon dioxide56% see the process of creating electricity for our lights from fossil fuels as contributing to climate change Moreover, happening today,
a group of students from across the country are in Washington to challenge their GOP Senators, including Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul, to take an elementary school level climate science quiz.


Crackpot Global Warming Denialists

When I was a graduate student here at the University of Washington the chair of my Ph.D. committee was the editor of a prestigious journal, and he enlisted my assistance in wading through submissions. Very early on I discovered a general category of author, the crackpot.  My mentor was a leading figure in his area, and because it involved mathematics my undergraduate background in physics and mathematics came into play in evaluating the submitted articles.  What I found was a kind of person, almost always retired or emeritus who had worked on a pet theory, maybe even their whole career, for which they in fact had very little background.  Many of them involved some application of mathematics or statistics and it fell on me to compose the rejection letter.

A friend of mine sends me posts by global warming denialists who remind me of those crackpots. They are inevitably retired or emeritus professors or engineers who have written articles or books

The Effectiveness of the Professional Deniers of Global Warming

Merchants of Doubt is a new documentary describing the efforts of professional deniers who have defended the tobacco industry, attacked vaccinations and climate change, using a variety of mendacious methods to sow doubt.  Andrew O'Hehir in Salon.com casts this battle, between the professional deniers paid by corporations, and scientists whose findings threaten the livelihood of these corporations.

“Merchants of Doubt” is primarily based on the influential 2010 book of the same name by science historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, which traces the strategy and tactics of climate denial back to the tobacco industry’s 50-year propaganda war against clear-cut medical evidence and increased government regulation. “Our product is doubt,” as one infamous internal memo, found amid the reams of tobacco-industry documents pried free from the corporate vaults, put it. Advised by consultants at the P.R. firm Hill & Knowlton never to directly deny the mounting evidence that cigarett…

Climate Science in K-12 Schools

Twenty six States worked together to establish standards for science education in K-12 schools called the Next Generation Science Standards.  They have been implemented in ten states, California, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.  An additional state, Wyoming, considered the standards and rejected them because they included the teaching of climate science.  State Board of Education Chair Ron Micheli said “I don’t accept, personally, that [climate change] is a fact", which reinforces that adults, too, need some science education.

If there's anything at all that our children should be exposed to it is climate science.  It is their future that is at risk, as I've noted before.  They need to find out what portends, and to do something about it.  Fortunately Wyoming has changed its mind.  This needs to be part of a trend.  There is nothing more important in the academic life of a child than learning about the consequen…

Global Warming Rebound Confirmed

I posted a short time ago about new research on ocean temperatures.  It explained the slow climb in atmospheric temperatures compared to the previous decade due to much of the heat from the atmospheric CO2 being absorbed by the oceans.  My suggestion in that post was that when that absorption slows our atmospheric temperatures could rebound.  This has been confirmed:

In the five months before November 2014, measures of surface temperature differences in the Pacific shifted to positive, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This is the longest such positive shift detected in about 12 years.
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In January 2015, further signs emerged that the PDO is right now in transition to a new warm phase. “Global warming is about the get a boost,” ventured meteorologist Eric Holthaus. Recent data including California’s intensifying drought and sightings of tropical fish off the Alaskan coast “are further evidence of unusual ocean warming,” suggesting that a PDO transitio…

Conservatives War On Truth

The high correlation of views on global warming with political party is difficult to understand.  Global warming is about science.  Evidence is evidence and has no party.  But the global warming denialists are strongly Republican and conservative.  Heather Cox Richardson proposes an explanation.  Banking off of Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker's attempted revision of the University of Wisconsin's mission statement from "Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth" to "meet the state's workforce needs", she showed how this is simply a reflection of something the founder of contemporary conservative thought, William F. Buckley, established, that "Christianity and untrammeled individualism were truths not to be questioned."  Buckley, she adds, "launched an intellectual war to replace the principle of academic inquiry with a Christian and individualist ideology."  That is to say, conservatism is about Christianity and…